Tales of the Nightfall
Part 1: Metamorphosis
Chapter 4: Greif that Burdens
Ruku awoke that morning in a soft bed. His alarm clock did not go off because he was not sleeping in his own room in his own home. He was sleeping in one of the spare bedrooms in Jakes large estate. The room was small and bare, save for the queen-sized bed with indigo sheets and quilt, the large dresses along the left wall, and the indigo curtain hung over the windows. No pictures adorned the walls nor any trinkets the dresser. No one had lived in this room for a long time. Still it had been kept in great condition.
After begging Jake to take him away from the hospital, Jake had brought him back to his home. Ruku had decided to stay there for a while, not wanting to be alone with his thoughts. As he sat up slowly, and groggily got out of bed and stretched, his stomach growled. He realized that he hadn’t eat since the day before last having come directly to Jake’s from the hospital, locking himself in this room and crying for the better part of an hour trying to write some spell to heal Rouge until he finally fell asleep.
Still in his black boxers and tank top, he made his way out of the room and down to the kitchen where Jake stood, making breakfast.
“Ah, good morning Ruku,” he said, seeing Ruku enter, “Feeling better?” Ruku shook his head and sat at the table, yawing.
A gust of wind went through the kitchen, when it subsided, Yuko appeared.
“Well, it’s about damn time you give some exhibition of your magic.” Ruku said, coldly, eyeing the woman,
“What’re you doing here? How’d you know… Never mind, look who I’m asking.”
He had been about to ask how Yuko had known where he’d be and how to find him, but then Ruku remembered that this witch had more power than he and, therefore, must have only a million ways of finding anyone she sought out. He ran a paw through his bed head of hair, wrapping his tail around his front to hide the morning wood he couldn’t believe he actually had.
“Ruku,” Yuko said, “You look like hell, what happened to you?”
Ruku frowned, held his head down looking only at the table in front of him.
“I stayed up late last night, trying to find or write a spell that might heal Rouge…” He said, “But I couldn’t find one, nor could I manage to write one…Damn it! What’s the use in having powers if I can’t use then to save the life of the person closest to me?!”
Yuko gave him her soul piercing, yet empathetic stare as she said,
“Ruku, I have come across many witches who have asked similar questions. My response to them would usually be, ‘would you like me to rid you of those powers you feel are so useless?’ Well, Ruku?”
Ruku shook his head quickly, “No…It’s not that I…I mean, I don’t think my powers are totally useless,” he said, “It’s just I don’t have the power I need... Also, if I were to give up my powers, then I would be giving up a part of me that I’m not really ready to lose yet, if ever.”
“That is good, Ruku,” Yuko said, “Because you are hereby on Ordeal.”
“What?!” both Ruku and Jake said at once,
“He can’t possibly be on ordeal! Not with all that’s going on!” Jake said,
Yuko said, “It is precisely because of this incident that the Powers That Be think Ruku should be put on ordeal now.”
“Are they crazy?!” Ruku said, “With all I’ve got going on--!”
He’d just thrust his arm out, meaning to emphasize his point. What happened instead was a blast of psychokinetic energy shot from his paw, hit the door, and blasted it off its hinges.
“Wh…what the hell?!”
Yuko said, “That is part of your ordeal; your powers will evolve over the next three months. At the end of those three months, you will have a choice of whether to keep these new powers, or give them back.”
“You can have my answer now.” Ruku said, the smile on Yuko’s face indicated that she had expected this response.
“Ruku, learn to control these powers, and your emotions in three months. I cannot help you. But, I believe that a certain fox and a certain ‘bird’ will be of more help than I.” Yuko was about to leave, but she turned back to Ruku and said, “Oh, yes, that’s right. With Rouge gone, you are now the current acting manager of the cafe.”
Ruku wanted to say he didn’t want the job, and he didn’t, but he knew arguing with Yuko would get him nowhere right now.
“Fine, but only until Rouge wakes up.”
Yuko smiled, “I knew you’d say that. Good luck.” With that, Yuko disappeared in the same manor she’d appeared, a gust of wind.
“Damn it, why now?” Ruku said, then turned to Jake and said, “Sorry about the door…”
“It’s fine, Ruku,” Jake said, “But you really will need to learn to control that... What’d she mean by bird?” “Raven,” Ruku said, “the guy I work with…”
A week passed since the incident that morning, and Ruku was having even more troubling controlling these new powers than he was before. They’d decided to tackle Ruku’s powers, one each month of the ordeal, in order of activation, starting with levitation, then moving to telekinesis – now Havokinesis – and ending with the newest and least learnt power, Temporalkinesis.
Raven had even agreed to help out. For the first month, Levitation was the power they’d work on. Ruku seemed to be unable to levitate at all anymore; every time he tried it felt to him as though his body were weighed down much more than by just gravitational force. Ruku didn’t understand why, but Raven had an idea.
Raven thought it was Ruku’s grief that weighed him down both emotionally and physically. Grief weighs more on a person’s emotional state, he’d reasoned, and advised Ruku to try and get back into normality, or as much of it was he could, to try and alleviate some of his grief.
Following Raven’s advice, Ruku had decided to keep working at the cafe even with his powers the way they were. As they were one person short, Jake volunteered to be a waiter. It was more Jake’s way of keeping an eye on Ruku, and being close to him at the same time.
“Hey, Ruku,” Raven began, as he walked into the office where Rouge normally did her paperwork. “You said that each of your powers have emotional triggers, right?”
Yuko smiled to Ruku from the front door, before turning to leave. Ruku nodded in response to Raven’s question,
“Okay, and what was the trigger for Levitation?”
Ruku thought for a moment. Levitation was the first power he’d ever receive, it had activated when he was six. He’d been running from some bullies and had been trying to jump up into a tree where he knew the humans could not easily follow. At three failed attempts, he’d begun wishing that he could fly. He began imagining having wings, being light as aer, and the exhilaration of flight.
On the fourth attempt to jump onto the branch of the tree to climb it, he had suddenly felt as though the weight of gravity no longer applied to him, and he was soaring. Soon, he’d grabbed onto the topmost branch of the tree and was looking down at the obviously shocked and pissed off bullies.
“I don’t think it was an emotional trigger like telekinesis or temporalkinesis,” he said, “The activation of levitation came from a need to get away from pursuers. The feeling I felt when I first levitated was sheer weightlessness. Now I feel as though something is weighing me down more than gravity itself.”
“That’s the problem then.” Raven said, “Something is holding you grounded.” He paused for a moment to think, “Since your powers are connected to your emotions, it seems fair to say that one of you emotions is causing you not to be able to get the feeling of ‘weightlessness’. The only emotions I can think of are grief and guilt. As I told you already, grief bears down on a person’s emotions more than they truly realize.”
Ruku looked down, and Raven raised an eyebrow at him,
“Ruku, are you feeling guilty about something? If so that guilt has become a weight that is holding you down.”
Ruku sighed, “I know I probably have nothing to feel guilty about…” he said, “But I can’t help feeling guilty that we are having such good times, and Rouge isn’t here to have then with us.”
“I don’t know why I feel that way; I just do.” Ruku said, then added, “Also, I still feel a little guilty that I wasn’t there to be able to do anything for her. Maybe I could’ve stopped time, but then again, that might’ve exposed me so… I don’t know. I know what you’re going to say, though, ‘I shouldn’t worry about things I have no control over’ or ‘even if I had been there, I might’ve been the one hurt.’ But, I still can’t help but feel a little guilty,” he sighed
Raven waited till he was finished speaking and asked, “Is that all?”
Ruku looked up and nodded slowly. That wasn’t all, but that’s all he felt up to admitting.
“Try to levitate.”
Ruku blinked and closed his eyes, focusing. He felt his feet leave the ground, but only a few inches, before gravity kicked back in almost forcefully.
“You’re still hiding something.” Raven said, heading for the door, “I’ll get it out of you, whether you like it or not.”
He threw a cocky smirk over his shoulder at Ruku before heading for the front door…
It was Ruku’s turn to close up. As he stood on the threshold, looking around the café to make sure that all things were in order, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. He turned and closed the door behind him, scouring the empty street around him as he dug in his pockets for the keys. Grasping them, he turned back to the door, pushing the key into to the lock and turning it, feeling it turn the tumblers with in and hearing the click that signaled the door was locked.
As he withdrew the key from the lock, he felt something the made his fur stand on end. He froze as a voice whispered, “It’s your fault… you weren’t there…”
His heart stopped, then immediately took up residence in his stomach as he turned around slow, eyes wide to find a large, black spectral dog with glowing red eyes baring its razor sharp fangs at him.
“An Abyssal Hound!” he breathed out, pressing his back against the door, “Why…?!”
The hound opened its mouth, and Rouge’s voice flowed from it, “Why weren’t you there for me Ruku?”
“Rouge?!” he said, pressing himself flat against the door. It couldn’t be. Rouge was haunting him as an Abyssal? Was she truly that mad at him? “Rouge…I’m sorry I…”
The hound lunged at him and he dodge, backing away down that street.
“You’re sorry?!” the Abyssal spoke with Rouge’s voice, angry, furious, “You don’t seem to sorry! You’re still having a good time with me in that hospital bed!”
The hound growled and lunged again for Ruku who took off running.
This was worse than his worst nightmare. His worst fears come to life. Rouge was pissed and she was haunting him. How’d she know to become an Abyssal? He didn’t know much about life after death, but he guessed any one with enough anger and resentment could become an Abyssal when they slept at death’s door.
He dare not let the hound catch him though. It would drag him to the Nether, the twisted realm where the damaged, cursed, and lost souls went. So he ran. He ran as fast as his legs would go, the hound hot on his heels, growling and snarling. He turned a corner and ran down the alley.
He ran into a chain-link fence that had surely not been there before. He looked left and right then did an about face to see the hound at the end of the alley, its red eyes contrasting the orange-red glow of the setting sun. He backed against the fence, wishing he could pass through it.
“Rouge I’m sorry…please.” He almost begged, his eyes stinging with tears, “I know it’s my fault, I should’ve been there for you… I should’ve made sure you could reach me…hell maybe I shouldn’t have gone to Jake’s at all…”
The hound was closing in on him, stalking him slowly, listening to him even.
“It was a mistake to go there.” It said,
Ruku breathed heavily and looked into those daemonic eyes. He began to nod, then shook his head,
“No…It…it wasn’t a mistake to go there.” He said, “I…I enjoyed myself…I enjoyed the time I spent with Jake…It was unfortunate that it happened while I was with Jake…If I had made sure you could reach we’d have been there…but I honestly wouldn’t take back that night with him…”
The hound chuckled and grinned, “Is that how you truly feel? Do you feel guilty at all that you were having sex while I was getting run over?!”
Ruku blinked, “I…we were finished by the time the accident happened…I was asleep…I’m sorry I wasn’t there Rouge…but I can’t feel guilty about exploring myself and my feelings for Jake… not anymore…I think…I’m in love with him.”
As the hound growled and lunged, he jumped into the aer, the weight on his heart gone, and levitated over the fence, landing to see the hound crash into it. Ruku breath out a sigh of relief and turned to run, only to see Jake and Raven standing at the other end of the alley.
Ruku’s heart skipped several beats. Where had they come from? Had they heard everything? That would have to wait, he ran towards them, yelling “Run!” as they just stood there.
“Run from what?” Raven said, a devious grin on his face, “The Abyssal I sent after you to get you to open up about your feelings?”
“Abyssal…YOU sent?! How? You’re not magick!”
Raven shrugged as Jake embraced the flustered Ruku. “Little help from a certain witch.”
“You think you’re in love with me?” Jake asked, smiling softly, “That’s so cute.”
Ruku blushed and looked up at Jake, “I…”
He was silenced by a deep, passionate kiss.
“I love you too, Ruku…”